Selling my car without getting any money.. How to protect myself?
September 5, 2013 5:07 PM   Subscribe

For reasons that were mutually beneficial at face value, I sold my car to my SO's parent. However, therein lies the problem.. any way to get myself in a better situation than the one I've inadvertently gotten myself into without realizing the full ramifications of my decision?

For all intents and purposes let's assume that this decision cannot be undone (however, if you have advice as to why it should not be followed through, please let me know). I would like to move forward with this decision, I just need advice to make this happen in the best possible way that will protect me, seeing as I have a lot more at stake here.

I have sold my car to my SO's parent, however, they cannot afford a lump sum and have not provided any money at all. I have offered the possibility of paying off the car and having them make payments. If you know from my previous question, I have recently moved to a new city and have not yet found a job, so the funds to be used to pay off the vehicle are pretty much the cushion for living. I know, not the greatest idea and I can't imagine how I got myself into this situation. What is the most favorable outcome and how can I legally ensure that I will not get screwed over in the end?

The icing on the cake is that SO's parent is not financially responsible. They make decent money but have never been able to make wise financial decisions and my concern is lack of payment. Due to insurance reasons, I have decided to pay off the car and put the title under SO's parent's name so they can insure the vehicle as they will be driving it of course and I don't feel comfortable getting insurance and putting them on it. Is there a contract or a script or something that I can legally use for protection to make sure that I don't get swindled, that they pay on time, and that if anything happens I can get the car back if they don't pay up? I don't want to be legally responsible if they wreck the car or anything, but I really need to make sure they give me the money they promised.

This was made under the assumption that due to them being my SO's parent, they would do the right thing. However, at this point, they don't have any reason (other than bad blood between us if they screw me over) to pay. My concern is also, that they won't pay on time, or try to make partial payments because they "can't afford" it this month, and will pay the other portion the following paycheck etc. Please help? I wish I could go back on this, and if anyone gives me reason to suspect it won't work out, I will. Mefites, my financial future is in your hands. Also, I learned my lesson. I have never entered into any monetary agreement with anyone, even my own family, let alone anyone else. Is there at least a bill of sale or some kind of stock legal document I can have them sign that will provide me with some kind of protection? I don't want them to hate me, but at this point, what's more important is that I don't want to be taken for a fool.
posted by lunastellasol to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Hey, I'm sorry - SO's parent. I've been going over my finances and there just isn't a way I can make this happen. I thought at the time I offered, that I could do it. But I can't."

You are going to get screwed if you go through with it. I think you know that.
posted by crw at 5:12 PM on September 5, 2013 [18 favorites]

Your tenses are confusing me a bit -- what has happened so far? Who legally owns the car right now? Who has the car right now? Who is driving the car right now?
posted by brainmouse at 5:12 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I legally own the car, the car is physically with SO's parent, presumably they are driving the car (in another state).
posted by lunastellasol at 5:16 PM on September 5, 2013

If you legally own the car, then right now they're just borrowing it, especially if no money has changed hands. Tell them money up front or no go and get them to ship it back to you. Oh, and they do have a reason to pay, otherwise they've basically stolen your car and you can report it.
posted by Jubey at 5:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

This was made under the assumption that due to them being my SO's parent, they would do the right thing.

Did something specific happen to make you change your assumption?
posted by BibiRose at 5:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're not comfortable completely cancelling the sale, then ask them to buy the car the way everyone buys a car -- with a bank loan that gets you the full value, and gets the bank instead of you to take all the risk (and the bank will own the title). "Hey SO's Dad, I've been going over my finances, and I can't support myself if we do this as a monthly payment. I'm still going to give you the family discount, but I need you to get a standard car loan for this so that you can give me the full value, and I can pay off my loan and pay rent. In order to make my finances work I need the full sum by 10/1, so if you don't want to get a loan, let me know by 9/15 so I can sell the car through other channels"
posted by brainmouse at 5:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

Let's recap - you have "sold" the car to your SO's parent, but still have title, and have not received any money for said transaction. Yes? If so, crw has it. Get out! (sorry, I know it's your SO's fam, but seriously...try to back out of this. Good luck!)
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 5:22 PM on September 5, 2013

Best answer: Tell them to get an auto loan for an agreed upon amount, which they will pay you for the car. Then, if they don't pay, it's their problem, not yours. Auto loans are possible even with very bad credit because the car is collateral.

Please don't do things for the SO's parents thinking it's going to help you with him/her later, or you're going to get closer to the family or will be paid back somehow. It's nice and all, but you're almost certainly going to end up getting the short end. This is NOT something you have to (or should) do to maintain a successful relationship.
posted by cnc at 5:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: (sorry to threadsit) both brainmouse and bibirose are correct. I cannot afford to absorb the risk and cost, and they cannot, due to financial irresponsibility (i.e credit) cannot get a loan. That's why I offered for them to make payments. However, I needed to sell the car and couldn't find an alternative... I assumed it would go well...
posted by lunastellasol at 5:23 PM on September 5, 2013

I don't understand how there wasn't an alternative to selling it to the parent? Even a scrap car has its value as: scrap. Is there something wrong with the car? Did the agreement involve an above-market rate? How long ago did you hand over the keys? I agree with previous answers that you shouldn't let yourself get taken here, but the 'couldn't find an alternative' part is confusing.
posted by kmennie at 5:29 PM on September 5, 2013

Is there a reason you need to sell your car to people who can't actually pay for it, rather than selling to someone who can afford it and thus getting the money which was the entire reason for selling in the first place?

You should just ask for the car back, or give them a hard ultimatum to make a large payment to you by a specific date. When you ask for it back, if they say "oh I'm going to pay you so soon! Check's in the mail! As soon as my [thing] clears!" or the like, either hold them to a hard date or say something came up and you need to change the plan.
posted by Sara C. at 5:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My first car, also first time selling it and of course, the easiest option should never actually be the option you choose. These are all great answers, and I realize, no matter how much I love my SO, I would much rather have them be upset at me for a bit and get over it, than be in financial ruin.
posted by lunastellasol at 5:31 PM on September 5, 2013

Best answer: Holy shit you are so super screwed right now. HOLY SHIT.

INSURANCE. LIABILITY. INSURANCE. holy shit holy shit holy shit

Get the car back ASAP. You are on the hook for any medical or physical damage in the event of an accident.

They're irresponsible to begin with, and they don't own this car yet, so they will be even less likely to..... Oh hell.

This car is not "theirs." What they've asked/allowed you to do is horrible for you, you're in a terrible position on this.

Get the car back ASAP.
posted by jbenben at 5:32 PM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]

Make sure they stop driving it ASAP, too.

Protect yourself. Please.
posted by jbenben at 5:32 PM on September 5, 2013

You may be wrong about the car loan. I know someone who got a $12,000 car loan less than 6 months after bankruptcy because the bank can can always take the car if you don't pay. Capital One makes these kinds of deals.

And jbenben is right. Any accident or other issues go on YOUR car insurance because they have permission to drive the car.
posted by cnc at 5:36 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've learned (the hard way) that when you enter a financial agreement with a family member, especially with someone who is financially irresponsible, that you should not expect your money back. Be mentally prepared that this is a gift, not a loan. Because if they do not keep their end of the bargain, Christmas is going to be super awkward. Either because you had to sue them, repossess the car by force, or just grow angry and resentful that they abused your relationship and used you financially.

You have two options here:

1. Transfer ownership of the car and mentally prepare yourself that you will never see the money. Accept each payment in the mail as a nice surprise.

2. Immediately tell them you made a mistake in your personal budget, unemployment is tougher than you imagined, and you need the car back in order to afford your monthly bills. SO can step in here and help explain your financial situation. (Or they can do a car loan but it sounds like this isn't possible).
posted by daisies at 5:45 PM on September 5, 2013

The car is out of state being driven by people not on the insurance.

The insurance company will make every excuse not to pay any damages and the OP will be responsible for everything, including the in-laws injuries, if it came to that.

OP, I'm praying right now your car has full coverage, not basic, in any event.

I'm guessing if you called your insurance company and asked about this, they would be more likely to drop your coverage rather than offer increase your coverage to include out of state non-policy holding drivers.

Additionally, I would not trust irresponsible people with credit problems to maintain their own adequate coverage. No way.

Get the car off the road ASAP. This is serious for you.
posted by jbenben at 5:48 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: So these people make decent money but will still not pay you for the car, are happy to have you on the hook if an accident happens and are completely ok to not pay you, knowing you're basically destitute without the money - and YOU'RE worried about being the bad guy? FFS, get the car back and wash your hands of the in laws, they sound vile. And if Christmas is screwed, so much the better. Why would you want to spend time with them when they would happily pressure you into this situation. If your SO doesn't understand, consider what that might say about her, too.
posted by Jubey at 5:52 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you internet strangers for giving me permission and telling me that I was rightfully freaking out. I am going to get the car back and sell it via other means with guaranteed payment and I have learned my lesson. I appreciate all the feedback. I hope all goes well and that nothing bad happens these next few weeks it will take me to straighten this mess I got myself into.
posted by lunastellasol at 6:24 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

I would suggest having a friend go get the car or getting on a plane and going to get it. You could always have it towed, if no friend is available or it's impossible to go get it yourself.

Waiting a couple weeks--whoo boy, are you asking for trouble.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:58 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here I was just thinking about the potential for drama. Get out of this terrible situation as soon as you can. What fucked up predator does a thing like this? You just moved!
posted by oceanjesse at 1:48 AM on September 6, 2013

Yea uh, don't ever tell someone you're going back on a deal like this if you aren't in a position to take the thing back immediately. You tell them you're taking it back when you're like right there taking it.

This is the same reason that places often just pay you two weeks severance and walk you to the door when they fire you. SO MUCH can happen in that two weeks. From intentionally/maliciously fucking things up out of spite to just being really reckless because "meh who gives a fuck" and plenty of combinations of the two.

To say i have experience with this kind of BS is really understating it. I'm pretty much at a point now that i don't even like selling things to friends or family.

I would go out of my way to get the thing back in the next day or two. Even if that meant calling in to work and charging the plane ticket/other costs of doing such that they refused to cover on a credit card to float it until i got my next paycheck or something. Cars especially are a shit sandwich from a liability/generally dealing with it standpoint where you either sign the title over and they own it, or you hold the title until they pay you but are liable in all kinds of weird ways. This is one of the major reasons people use bank loans or full cash up front and no middle ground.

I realize a lot of this is beating a drum that people have already beat, but if there was ever a need for a pile on this is it. Because jesus what a jacked up situation.

Seriously, going and getting it and parking it in a long term/monthly lot until you can get it all the way back is better than leaving it with them at this point. Even if they don't have the keys i just wouldn't want it there. Do not underestimate the dumb drama and petty damage to the car or other shit that could pop up when you try and reverse this deal which is basically all gravy in their direction.
posted by emptythought at 1:53 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm finding that cash is really tight, and I'm going to need to sell the car so I can pay it off. I can't transfer title while I owe on the car. Gee, I'm really in a bind here, do you have any ideas to help work this out?
Look, if you're going to have an ongoing relationship with these people via your SO, you might as well start with boundaries; you're going to need them.
posted by theora55 at 9:12 AM on September 6, 2013

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